Thriving in today’s big data world, we look for data metrics to substantiate everything we do. In marketing and advertising, this adage certainly holds true: not everything that counts can be counted (such as word-of-mouth marketing), and not everything that can be counted counts.
As marketing professionals look for measurable results to validate efforts and identify opportunities for improvement, it is important to understand that not all gems can be weighed – and just because something can be weighed doesn’t make it a gem. As President and Chief Strategy Officer for a healthcare branding, marketing and advertising firm, I encourage clients to choose meaningful criteria that, if successful, substantiates the success of the rest. You cannot reasonably track and measure everything, so be strategic: mine insights that are and will be most worthwhile as your organization works to fulfill its mission and achieve its vision.
“If a measurement matters at all, it is because it must have some conceivable effect on decisions and behavior. If we can’t identify a decision that could be affected by a proposed measurement and how it could change those decisions, then the measurement simply has no value.”
– Douglas W. Hubbard, Author, How to Measure Anything: Finding the Value of “Intangibles” in Business
Measurements that can’t guide action and strategy are vanity metrics – findings that look good on paper but don’t really mean anything. By contrast, key performance indicators (KPI) provide valuable information to guide behavior and/or decision making. KPIs become guiding principles indicating if and where change is needed.
Here’s a quick look at some key considerations in establishing this process:
- Agree to goals early on during the strategic marketing planning process.
- Determine with your key stakeholders what your measures are, and then set clear processes to monitor and track them. Depending on your goals, appropriate measures may include patient/new patient volume, market share, share of voice, retention rates, physician engagement, patient satisfaction, web traffic, call volume and/or market position.
- Gain adoption and trust in the process for data collection, analysis and reporting to ensure subsequent engagement on the reported results.
Collect and Connect
- Partner with key vendors to supply or help capture accurate data.
- Always ask new customers how and where they heard about you.
- Dig deep into processes within the organization to ensure data is being captured at all your key touchpoints (admitting, ER, registration, medical records, call center, outpatient clinics).
- Link organizational revenue to your marketing efforts (earned, paid and owned) to understand customer behavior, utilization and downstream revenue effects.
Analyze and Report
- Use a dashboard metric report to consistently track and monitor key measures and see trends over time. Choose the high-level key metrics that represent overall success.
- Go beyond reporting to actually analyze the data to see the “so what.” Data always tell stories.
- The dashboard will allow you to see where you are driving both customer and new customer volume/revenue. It is very powerful and worth the time it takes to establish as an operational imperative to the strategic growth of the organization.
The American Marketing Association (AMA) agrees, even going so far as to state that “in order to be taken seriously as business savvy, marketers must develop capabilities around performance evaluation.” AMA advises taking time to systematically review the full spectrum of possible measures and select those that fit best with your goals for the brand strategy development process. A “tight focus on key business metrics and the simplest way to communicate them” is imperative for optimizing both the relevance and the impact of what you’re evaluating.
Accurate measures must be custom, relevant and meaningful to each organization. Rather than preoccupying yourself with measures and metrics that aren’t relevant or actionable, use targeted, tangible metrics as a guide instead. Doing so will provide the clarity and insight you need to determine successful efforts, quantify progress, bring clarity to your efforts, substantiate your work and leverage results to better position your work as key to organizational success and growth.
About the Author
Julie Amor, President and Chief Strategy Officer for Dobies Healthcare Group, has 30 years of experience elevating healthcare brands. Share your thoughts with her by tweeting @DobiesGroup, connecting with us on LinkedIn, or by commenting on our Facebook page.